(From left) Lee Chern Yih pharmacy services manager; Yip Hui Ming speech therapist, Derserri Chee occupational therapist; Edward Chan senior dietitian; Lisa Tee senior physiotherapist; Koh Chee Wai medical social services manager. PHOTO:TED CHEN.

Bridging long-term care between hospitals and patients

More often than not, patients who have been discharged from hospitals do not keep up with proper post-recovery care as advised by their doctors. This could be due to a lack of knowledge or simply the lack of motivation to continue with post-recovery care such as going for regular therapy sessions.

SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH) – which was set up in 2017 – has formed a team of Allied Health Professionals to tackle the problem. The priority in general hospitals is to stabilise the patient’s condition, whereas the focus in community hospitals is to rehabilitate and manage patient’s long-term healthcare.

Forming the team are experts from various fields, such as physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, pharmacist, podiatrist, dietitian and medical social worker, across SCH’s community hospitals – Bright Vision Hospital (BVH), Sengkang Community Hospital (SKCH) and Outram Community Hospital (OCH).

As Singapore’s first cluster of community hospitals, SCH provides healthcare services for sub-acute, rehabilitative and palliative care, a chronic sick unit and outpatient day rehabilitation centre. With BVH, SKCH and OCH working closely with general hospitals, this allows patients to enjoy a seamless transition between different healthcare settings and enjoy convenient access to an integrated suite of healthcare services.

“We believe patients are more than just their medical conditions. They have other needs to be addressed in order for them to recover and integrate well into their community. We have to consider factors like what their lives were like before admission, family background, personal preferences and psychoemotional issues,” says Ms Lisa Tee, senior physiotherapist at BVH.

Working alongside doctors and nurses, the Allied Professional Health Team is involved in finding out a patient’s background and his needs so that the team can provide holistic post-discharge care. Approaching each patient with the view that he is a unique individual – and with empathy – the team aims to provide a personalised care that can aid the patient’s recovery.

“We always ask our patients, ‘What matters to you?’ and not ‘What’s the matter with you?’ This helps us to understand what they need and not what we think they need,” says Ms Derserri Chee, occupational therapist at SKCH.

SCH believes in providing patients – especially the elderly – a homely, conducive and supportive environment to help them relax and recuperate at their own pace.

Said Mr Lee Chern Yih, Pharmacy Services manager at OCH: “At community hospitals, we have more time to educate patients at a pace that is easier for them to digest information. They are also equipped with the skills and knowledge to care for themselves after their discharge.”